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Newstead v London Express

[1940] 1 KB 377

Case summary last updated at 17/01/2020 18:28 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Newstead v London Express

D reported the trial of bigamy of X, who had the same name and age as P. Because of the lack of particularity in D’s description of X, many people thought that P was being tried. P sued D for defamation. CA found for P, saying that reasonable persons would have understood the words complained of to refer to the plaintiff and it was no defence that it was true of another person. 

Wilfred Greene MR: It is wrong to say that “the fact that defamatory words are true of A, makes it as a matter of law impossible for them to be defamatory of B… At first sight this looks as though it would lead to great hardship. But the hardships are in practice not so serious as might appear, at any rate in the case of statements which are ex facie defamatory. Persons who make statements of this character may not unreasonably be expected, when describing the person of whom they are made, to identify that person so closely as to make it very unlikely that a judge would hold them to be reasonably capable of referring to someone else”

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